Worried about flu complications? Even for a healthy person, the flu can put you out of commission for days -- even weeks. And there's always the chance that the flu can cause more serious health problems or flu complications such as sinusitis (sinus infections), bronchitis, or even pneumonia.
According to the CDC, 5% to 20% of the U.S. population contracts the flu annually. More than 200,000 of those individuals are hospitalized for flu complications.
Flying to great-aunt Erma's house for Thanksgiving? Or taking a leisurely
wintertime cruise along the shores of the Mexican Riviera? Boost your chances
of healthy travel by taking a few preventive steps. That way, you'll cut your
risk of catching cold and flu from other plane passengers. And you won't be
confined to your cabin on the cruise ship, battling a nasty case of
gastroenteritis while other passengers are off enjoying the
Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.
What Is the Flu?
Influenza -- commonly shortened to "flu" -- is an extremely contagious viral disease that appears most frequently in the fall and winter. The flu comes on fast and strong, spreading through your upper respiratory tract and sometimes invading your lungs.
What Are the Symptoms of the Flu?
With the flu, you may have the following symptoms:
Fever (usually high)
Tiredness (can be extreme)
Runny or stuffy nose
Diarrhea and vomiting (more common among children than adults)
The most common flu complications include viral or bacterial pneumonia, muscle inflammation (myositis), central nervous system disease, and heart problems including heart attacks, inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis), and inflammation of the sac around the heart (pericarditis).
Those at highest risk for flu complications include adults over 50, children ages 6 months to 4 years, nursing home residents, adults and children with heart or lung disease, people with compromised immune systems (including people with HIV/AIDS), and pregnant women.
Yes, pneumonia is a common and very serious flu complication. Pneumonia can occur from direct involvement of the flu virus in the lung or when a bacterial infection develops during the course of the flu. Whether viral or bacterial, pneumonia can make you quite ill and may require hospitalization.